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Dec 3rd - Free ALTA Awards Ceremony and Concert

Dec 3rd - Free ALTA Awards Ceremony and Concert

Join the Maryland State Arts Council at the Maryland Traditions 2011 ALTA Awards Ceremony to honor: SINGING & PRAYING BANDS OF MARYLAND | Eastern & Western Shore; PATTERSON BOWLING CENTER & DUCKPIN LANES | Baltimore City; RICH SMOKER, DECOY CARVER | Somerset County. With Performances by: Warner Williams & Jay Summerour | Montgomery County; Chuck Brown & Phil Wiggins | Charles County / Montgomery County; SINGING & PRAYING BANDS OF MARYLAND | Eastern & Western Shore.

November 28, 2011Press Release



Saturday, December 3, 7:00P.M.
Admission: Free!

Tickets:  Call us Anytime!  240-567-5775
leave name,  telephone & number of tickets you desire
For a live operator, please call Wednesday- Friday

between 9am and 1pm

Online tickets will be available here after 11/18/11
for a small handling fee
There is no handling fee for phone orders. 

Performances by
Warner Williams & Jay Summerour | Montgomery County
Chuck Brown & Phil Wiggins | Charles County / Montgomery County

ALTA Award Honorees
 | Eastern & Western Shore 

Maryland Traditions, the folklife program of the Maryland State Arts Council, the National Council for the Traditional Arts, and Montgomery College present the ALTA (Achievement in Living Traditions and Arts) Awards Ceremony and Concert, recognizing outstanding stewards of living traditions in the State of Maryland. Named for folklorist and community leader Dr. Alta Schrock, the award is presented to three recipients for their ongoing efforts to preserve and maintain the state’s living heritage.

The evening ends with a performance from 2011 National Endowment for the Arts National Heritage Fellow Warner Williams. The National Heritage Fellowship is the highest federal honor given to traditional artists in the United States. Mr. Williams, a Piedmont blues songster, was born in Takoma Park, Maryland and lives in Gaithersburg, Maryland.


Celebrating Maryland Traditions

2011 National Endowment for the Arts National Heritage Fellow
Warner Williams 
was born in 1930 in a house on Sligo Mill Road in Takoma Park, Maryland. His parents and ten siblings were all musicians, playing guitar, banjo, piano, accordion, auto harp, fiddle – all “front porch music,” as Warner calls it. A guitarist in the Piedmont blues style, Warner never took lessons. Instead, he learned by watching his father and playing his father’s guitar in secret. “And one day he come home,” recalls Warner, “I was making a chord on it and he ain’t bothered me since.” Warner has played at house parties, on street corners, street cars, metro stops – anyplace anyone will listen, for money or for free. In 1977, he was invited to play at President Carter’s inauguration.  His vast repertoire of blues, country, and old popular tunes characterizes him as a “songster.” Along with his longtime sideman – harmonica player Jay Summerour of Rockville, Maryland – Warner has recorded for Smithsonian Folkways and Patuxent Records. He was recognized in 2011 as a National Heritage Fellow by the National Endowment for the Arts – the highest federal honor given to traditional artists.


SPECIAL PERFORMANCE: Chuck Brown & Phil Wiggins
The “Godfather of Go-Go” Chuck Brown, 2005 recipient of the NEA National Heritage Fellowship, will perform with master blues harmonica player Phil Wiggins, past recipient of the Maryland Traditions Apprenticeship Award, and longtime sideman of the late piedmont bluesman John Cephas. Although both Brown and Wiggins are both Washington DC natives, this will be their first time performing together on stage.

2011 ALTA Award Recipients


RICH SMOKER is a master decoy carver who lives in Marion, Maryland (Somerset County) and grew up on the Susquehanna River in Pennsylvania. He developed an interest in waterfowl at an early age and began carving hunting decoys with his father, R.B. Smoker. He has carved over 3,000 birds since moving to Somerset County in 1982, and has won over 60 best in shows and more than 450 ribbons. In 2008, Rich won the prestigious World Champion Title at the Ward World Wildfowl Carving Competition in the Shootin’ Rig Division. Sharing his knowledge with others has also inspired him to teach more than 1,400 people in over 140 classes. Similarly, Rich is an active member of the Ward Foundation Board of Directors, and the founder of the museum’s Chesapeake Wildfowl Expo.


PATTERSON BOWLING CENTER DUCKPIN BOWLING LANES is the oldest duckpin bowling alley in the world and Baltimore’s sole remaining duckpin-only alley. Located near Patterson Park, it was founded by the Ruzin family in 1927 and since 1995, has been owned by Charles and Theresa McElhose. Once a defining part of working-class culture in Baltimore, with ties to the city’s famous baseball stars of the early 1900s, Duckpin bowling has diminished over the past several decades. Many of the Duckpin lanes have closed and the manufacturers of Duckpin specialty machinery and pins have gone out of business. Nonetheless, Patterson Lanes is still a thriving center for the sport: it’s a place for serious duckpin bowlers, competitive leagues of all ages and abilities, enjoyable open play and the safeguarding of this distinctive tradition.


THE SINGING & PRAYING BANDS OF MARYLAND (EASTERN AND WESTERN SHORE) are an African-American devotional/musical tradition that is unique to the Delmarva region. With origins in West African religion, Christianity, and African-American ring shout traditions, Singing & Praying Bands developed during slavery. It is likely the oldest living African-American musical tradition in Maryland where, in the past, almost half of the Methodist churches around the Chesapeake had their own band. The ministry of the Singing & Praying Bands takes place in host churches, often at a camp meeting after an evening preaching service has ended. Members will line out a hymn, pray a prayer, and end with a spiritual in which the groups form a circle, marching counterclockwise out onto the church grounds. Since the 1950s, the bands have diminished in number, and the singers have consolidated into one large band comprised of 50-100 active members from twenty to thirty different churches. They come together most Sundays in the spring, summer and fall at a different church each week and hold service there, keeping this tradition alive.


THE ALTA AWARD which stands for Achievement in Living Traditions and Arts, was created by Maryland Traditions in 2007 to recognize outstanding stewardship of Maryland’s living traditions. The award is named in honor of folklorist and community leader Dr. Alta Schrock (1911-2001). Dr. Schrock, a native of Garrett County, taught biology at Frostburg State University and also founded publications, events and lasting institutions designed to share and safeguard her region’s traditional art forms. Her achievements in cultural conservation include the creation of The Spruce Forest Artisan Village, Penn Alps, the Journal of the Alleghenies and the Springs Festival.

Each year, three awards are presented in the categories of people, place, and tradition. Recipients are selected based on their demonstration of the highest standards of excellence in such areas as research, documentation, presentation, entrepreneurship, artistry, stewardship and community impact; places honored are those that specially serve to keep traditions alive and that are meaningful and effective gathering places or sites for carrying on living or endangered traditions; and traditions recognized are those that connect communities to cultural heritage in ways that exemplify Maryland’s dynamic spirit and may include events, occupations, knowledge, cultural scenes and organizations.

ABOUT THE NEA HERITAGE FELLOWSHIPS The National Endowment for the Arts National Heritage Fellowships were launched in 1982 under the guidance of Bess Lomax Hawes, then director of the Folk Arts Program at the NEA, to pay tribute to the nation’s foremost practitioners of traditional arts. Nominated by individual citizens and selected by a panel of cultural specialists, fellows receive a one-time award of $25,000. The National Heritage Fellowships are the most prestigious honor in the folk and traditional arts in the United States. Today, over 350 tradition bearers have been recognized for their commitment to their art form and communities — sometimes facing great obstacles — and for their interest in furthering the traditional arts.

The Bess Lomax Hawes Award was introduced as part of the Heritage Awards in 2000, and is given annually to individuals "whose contributions, primarily through teaching, advocacy, and organizing and preserving important repertoires" have greatly benefited their artistic tradition or enhanced the public visibility of folklife. 

Gaithersburg, MD 

2009 Mike Seeger | Musician, Cultural Scholar and Advocate 
Baltimore & Silver Spring/Lexington, VA* 

2007 Roland Freeman | Photo Documentarian, Author, Exhibit Curator Baltimore/DC* 

2005 Chuck Brown | African-American Musical Innovator (Go-Go) Brandywine, MD 

2004 Chum Ngek | Cambodian Musician and Teacher 
Gaithersburg, MD* 

2001 Hazel Dickens | Appalachian Singer-Songwriter

2001 Joe Wilson | Folklorist, Advocate and Presenter 
Silver Spring, MD/Trade, TN* 

1998 Apsara Ensemble | Cambodian Traditional Dancers and Musicians Fort Washington, MD 

1998 Harilaos Papapostolou | Greek Byzantine Chanter 
Potomac, MD 

1986 Khatna Peou | Cambodian Court Dancer/Choreographer 
Silver Spring, MD 

1986 Ola Belle Reed | Appalachian Banjo Picker/Singer 
Rising Sun, MD 

1983 Lem Ward | Decoy Carver/Painter Crisfield, MD 

                                                               *Bess Lomax Hawes Award recipient